Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Belfast City Council defends Christmas lights switch-on

Christmas lights switch-on 2011 at Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Council has defended its co-ordination of the annual Christmas lights switch-on.

On Saturday evening, a 20,000-strong crowd gathered in the streets around City Hall for the annual festive event, 10,000 people more than had been expected.

Preschool children’s favourite, Justin Fletcher performed for the audience. However, Postman Pat and singer Niamh Perry were unable to take to the stage.

This was due to the joint decision of council chiefs and the police to bring the time of the switch-on forward from 7.30pm to 7pm, in order to ease congestion and accommodate the young children in the crowd.

One Co Antrim woman told the Belfast Telegraph that she witnessed a scuffle between two men, while one of them was holding his young daughter.

“There seemed to be no crowd control,” she said.

“I saw quite a few fed-up parents leaving because their kids were restless and upset.

“The switch-on is all about the kids and should be done at around 5.30pm in future years.”

A Belfast City Council spokesman said the vast majority of people enjoyed themselves.

“This was the biggest crowd we have had at the event since President Clinton performed the switch-on,” he added.

“It was almost three times the number who attended last year, and more than attended the Snow Patrol concert as part of the MTV EMA awards two weeks earlier.”

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